Reviewed by: James Benefield

Jeffrey Blitz's Spellbound broke a lot of people's hearts. Maybe it was the kids, maybe it was the unflinching depiction of the American dream or perhaps it was the film's ability to teach you how to spell tricky words. But, however you saw it, it was hard not to be moved. Blitz clearly has a lot to live up to with subsequent features.

Lucky is about another facet of the American dream: the attainment of an obscene amount of cash. In some ways its subject, the Lottery, is the most democratic form of achievement possible. Anyone can play, and you don't have to have any skills or abilities whatsoever to win.

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The movie picks a number of people whose lives have been affected by the Lottery in the US. There's a Pennsylvanian family who won $110 million. They couldn't leave the house for 2 1/2 months afterward, for fear of being mobbed. They still receive letters begging for cash. There's a Vietnamese immigrant who builds four houses in the US and a mansion back at home to house his extended family. And there's the woman who spends hundreds of dollars a week on lottery tickets. The most she has ever won at one time, in thirty years of playing, is $5,000.

The good news is that the movie is every bit as enjoyable as Spellbound. Although presenting a multifaceted view of the winners and losers behind the millions (or lack of them), it's an overwhelmingly upbeat, positive experience. Money can buy you happiness if you manage it well, and don't put it at the emotional and psychological centre of your life. It's harder to do then you might think, but people depicted in this film show it's more than possible.

The cast of characters available is extraordinary. For example, Blitz manages to unpick the seeming contradiction of a maths professor who plays the lottery. The guy knows all about the statistics, more than most people. However, he puts his participation down to a superstitious, fantasy psychology he possesses. Blitz also meets a lottery winner whose win has forced him to sleep with a gun under his pillow.

The bad news is that the concept is a little thin. Blitz was lucky himself to find all the great stories and characters to pad it out. A lot of the time you are too distracted by this detail to notice the bigger picture, which isn't really adding to the (rather good, and informative) points the film makes. Also, the cute quotient is significantly lower than Spellbound. Curses. Not even the whimsical animation presenting statistics and facts can induce any celluloid cheek-pinching or cinematic hair ruffling.

But, above all, Lucky is a film which will make you laugh, gasp and, ultimately, say 'wow'. And you can't ask more for a film than that.

Reviewed on: 18 Jun 2010
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The story of what happens when ordinary people hit the lottery jackpot.
Amazon link

Director: Jeffrey Blitz

Year: 2010

Runtime: 96 minutes

Country: US

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